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You ever had someone tell you they’re leaving you? At the utterance of those words and in the days and months following have you ever had repeated and rapid flashbacks of the dreams you nurtured, worked for, prayed for and strived toward turning into what feels like an unwakable nightmare? Have you ever pulled out a calculator to remind yourself of the amount of money your parents paid for the wedding? Have you ever had the realization of the career you sacrificed hit you like a ton of bricks, or the thought of financial deprivation and absolute public humiliation? Have you ever lost a husband, church, career, some family and friends, health insurance, cell phone coverage, life insurance coverage, and income within three months? I have and I wanted to SNAP (crackle and pop)!
With that said, I’m so glad I didn’t. Recently, however, I had a chance to talk to another woman who is where I once was. Not to quantify or rank divorces, but I would even admit that her situation seemed to be even more of a challenge than mine. She was ready to declare war, honey and suffer the consequences later. I laughed at myself (and her) as I started telling her of some of the ways the enemy tried to get me to get myself off track during my separation and divorce process. I had soooooooo many plots and plans to get back at various people and entities. I did. I really, really did. I shall not entertain you or embarrass myself by sharing some of those maniacal plans, but let’s just say my mind had to constantly be put in check. Because I’m a “lady” and I’m a writer, not a fighter none of the things I wanted to do to seek revenge would have landed me in jail, but I would have been absolutely imprisoned in a battle of regression, regret and total shame.
I know it’s tough when we endure the heartbreaking reality of divorce, but I’m a firm believer after battling my own internal struggles, that our God does not fix a problem by creating a problem. He never intends for us to add any more pain to the pain that’s already been placed on us by going all “B-movie” and slashing tires, burning clothes, stalking or snapping on the man, woman, other man or other woman. He does not desire us to act out of character by lashing out on a social media “mess” blitz, or playing “hide and seek” with our children. He does not want us calling our old friends from the other side of town to “handle things” on our behalf, and he certainly doesn’t delight in us practicing our private eye skills turning our nights and early mornings into a seen from Matlock or Catfish.
God promises that He ALWAYS has a way of escape, especially when it comes to us trying to do His job. After all, this is His battle to fight. 2 Chronicles 20:17 (NIRV) says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take your positions. Stand firm. You will see how I will save you. Judah and Jerusalem, do not be afraid. Do not lose hope. Go out and face them tomorrow. I will be with you.”
We have to remember to hold to the Lord in times of hurt. The more we want to snap (crackle and pop) the more we need to stand firm trusting Him to heal, deliver, restore and reward.
Recently I had a heated dispute with someone I’ve known for multiple decades. To sum it up, this individual, who had totally disconnected from me well over a year ago, accused me of “never doing anything for him/her, having low self-esteem, and searching for something”. (What the what?!?!?!?!) This person even criticized the way I exercise my Christianity. (What the what, again?!?!?!?!?) I was hotter than an Arizona golf course in August. I wanted to scream, “Who do you think I am and what did you think I was supposed to do for you outside of ALL that I’ve already done over the last decades?!?!?) I was hurt trying to comprehend why, if this individual felt this way, it took over a year to express it and why he/she was not the least bit interested in allowing me to show that his/her thoughts weren’t true. Which happens sometimes, you know? (All they had to do was say what they perceived I did wrong so that we could work through it if that were to be the outcome.) I was especially mad as the dickens at the devil for continuing to use people to challenge what I know I’m sent here to do, and that’s help (in the way I am able, and am led to for those I’m supposed to help and be helped by).
After I ended the call with this person I thought back to how many other times I’ve been accused of not doing anything or enough for people. There appeared to be a recurring theme with a certain type of personality which made me question myself, and my judgment of people I allow in my life or reach out to. I reflected on being publicly humiliated by being called “not supportive” by my former spouse despite the fact I left a lucrative career to work for his church (and did COUNTLESS other things because of the love I had for him and those connected to him). Thankfully he eventually realized that wasn’t true and recanted the statement, but the damage had been done as some chose to, and wanted to continue to believe his first version of the truth. I thought about the former employee I’d developed an above and beyond mentor association with who told me “you didn’t do enough to help me find another job.” I thought about the person who emailed me to tell me that he/she had defriended me from facebook because I didn’t help him/her with a project. I’ve had people mad at me because I didn’t go to lunch with them, when those who know me know I get to work at the crack of dark (dark, not dawn) and I don’t go to lunch unless it’s a meeting because I’m usually preparing to go home when others are perusing a menu. I’ve had people completely disappear out of my life with no word, sign, smoke signal or adiós text message because later I learned through the “grapevine” that they felt I did more with/for others than them.
I’m not writing this post to rant. I’m not writing this post to throw shade at people who are human just as I am. I’m not writing it to usher in accolades from those I have helped, because as many people as I have been there for I have had so many people there for me and for those I am super grateful. I’m only writing this post to serve the devil notice that I peep his game and he is still defeated! I hate him!!!
A prophetess (one of two who have shared with me of late) said that I’m in a season of pruning. Well, that’s obvious, but I won’t be distracted during this time. I won’t try to hold on to leaves that don’t belong, but, if it’s God’s will from them to grow back I won’t be closed off to that either. I won’t become bitter. I won’t become cynical, not trusting people because of how a few perceive me. I won’t get discouraged due to those who disconnect. I won’t harp on conversations and situations (anymore) regarding those with a tainted perception of me. I won’t wonder what those with a tainted perception will say or post for others to see in an attempt to have people feel the same as they. I won’t go around trying to defend myself or prove myself when I know what I’m made of. I won’t wish ill or “pay back” on those I feel have misunderstood me. I believe in a good, old-fashioned testimony and can’t wait to see what the Lord does to and through anyone who has issues with me and me. And, as much as satan would be thrilled to see, I will NOT stop helping, and expecting help from those who say they love or care about me. In fact, this little attack assures me that my ability to do more for others, which is my sincere desire, is on the way!!!
For those who may feel as a few, in that I don’t “help” enough, do know that I’m not perfect, but my motives and intentions are pure. I’m not angry at you or anything remotely similar. I am, however, human, and not a superhero. I have my own life, life’s challenges, circumstances and situations with which to deal and, as with anyone there’s only so much one person can do or is supposed to do, and this is certainly true void of an opportunity to talk about it or talk it out. Outside of speaking, writing and encouragement, I know I have the gift of helping. What I offer, when, to whom, in what form and how often may not be what others want or desire, but I always do the best I can do. For the devil I’d like to say, “you’ve been dismissed!” For any who may choose to believe anything other than what I just said or the love and care I’ve shown do know that I still sincerely love you and will be here should you return, but in the words of the late, great Teddy Pendergrass, “If you don’t know me by now, you will never, never, never know me….ohhhhh, ohhhhh, ohhhhh.”
Recently I was rushing at work to make it to a community event. A person who was supposed to help me with preparations failed to do so which threw my usually smooth routine into a tailspin. I arrived at work at 5am to get some things accomplished, and be ready to receive the items I wasn’t able to get the night before so that I could make it to the location of the event at 8am.
At 7:15am I called the front desk to see if the items were ready. They were. I rushed out of my office to head down the hall. I greeted the receptionist as always then smiled and spoke quickly to a man walking by. We don’t have many men in our building so I was not sure of his reason for being there, especially that early. As I was approaching the door to hurriedly pick up my items so I could load my SUV and head to my event the same gentleman I spoke to started speaking. I couldn’t hear him clearly so I assumed (or at least told myself) that he wasn’t talking to me. He said something again, and I mustered up enough hearing to decipher the words “excuse me, ma’am”. I turned my head so quickly part of my “hair accessory’s” tresses swept down over my eye. I couldn’t hear him clearly because of a crying baby so I looked at him as if to say “are you talking to me or the receptionist?” I still continued to rush to open the door and retrieve my items while waiting on him to give some clue as to who he was talking to. Finally he said much louder and more directly, “Excuse me, ma’am. Are you a columnist?” Still a little foggy and groggy, and not quite sure what he meant I said, “pardon me” while still almost yanking on the knob to open the door to get my material. He repeated himself, “Are you a columnist, ma’am? Do you write?” Then it hit me. He was talking to me. I whispered, slightly embarrassed by my hasty actions, “Yes, I do, sometimes.” He then said with so much elation, “I know it was you. When I saw your face and heard her call your name I knew you were the one. I read your column every week in the Birmingham Times. You are such an inspiration to me, and I’m a man, so that says so much. You are such a blessing!”
I thanked him, but had to offer an internal apology to God for almost missing that moment. In my fastness, I could have come across as uncaring, or possibly rude. Truth be told, I was in perfect timing to arrive at my event. I just was frustrated by being out of my routine. Being out of my routine allowed the Lord to connect me with someone who said I was a blessing. Now I know without a doubt that he, in fact, was sent to be a blessing to me.
No two divorces are the same. Just as no two people who might have taken that gut-wrenching path through divorce are the same. Still, I found, in having spoken with and listened to an unfortunately large number of people who have experienced divorce as I have, that there are some commonalities that we all, or most, have battled or fought hard to avoid once the “till death do us part” is done.
So, with a humble warning that, again, no two divorces are the same, I suggest these stages that many trek on their journey from what feels like H-E-Double Hockey Sticks to healing. The point in which some of these stages comes varies from person-to-person. How long the stages last vary from person-to-person. Whether all the stages are endured, or some are able to be avoided vary from person-to-person. The ABILITY, through the grace of God to overcome them all is available to ALL. (Just ask me how I know!)
Shock and Pain-This stage is the initial revelation that the marriage is in jeopardy or ending. You’ve seen it. It is not pretty!
Revenge and IrrationalityThis stage is where many have spent nights and days plotting how to get back at the other spouse, engaging in unhealthy relationships, not eating, not sleeping, drinking, straying away from the church and from those who should be present to love and support them.
Fear and Grief-This stage is very similar to mourning experienced with the physical death of loved one and is often clouded with hopelessness, and for some depression and other mental or emotional illnesses.
Fighting For Mine (not literally)-This stage is bogged down with the legal aspects, and dismantling of the lawful arrangements of the marriage that often includes screaming, yelling, “private eye-like” investigations, heavy documentation (in case you need to prove him/her wrong in court) costly lawyers, custody battles, or property battles.
Figuring Out and Sorting Through-This stage is a sign of progress where the dust begins to settle and clearer thoughts prevail with how to handle things maturely and more appropriately. It’s still a struggle though, teetering on the brink of rational and irrational far too often for far too many.
Faith It for the Sake Of-This stage is where the spirit of the Lord equips a person to smile when they feel like crying, dress up, eat again, re-enter healthy social circles even if it pains them to do so, comb their hair, return to their regular hygiene routines, and speak in faith even when they don’t see it yet.
Compassion, Civility and Forgiveness-This stage is where forgiveness shines. A person is able to speak calmly to those who they feel might have led to the divorce. It’s the stage where rational thinking and a Godly outlook return, and they’re no longer consumed with the negative pains of the past. The person can grow during this stage to be able to pray for the other spouse or those who they feel might have contributed to the demise of the union, and be kind to them (whether they reconcile or not).
Platforms and New Purpose-This stage is where the Lord can trust a person to be able to use what he or she has been through to help others. Often people write, speak publicly, start ministries, form non-profit organizations, or launch support groups.
Connecting the Dots-This stage is where the Lord begins to show the good that has come out of the bad. It’s a tricky one that can also include having to face the ex-spouse in his/her new life and deal with any emotions that might come as a result to show you areas that still need to be healed. It is where God allows the pains of the past to be viewed from His point of view with the ability to look back and see how He was working for good all along, even when it didn’t feel like it. This is the stage where the belief that BETTER is the only option is all that matters.